Understanding Conversational Intelligence

We all know when we’re in the presence of a gifted conversationalist.

You hear people say things like ‘When I was talking to them, I felt like the only person in the room’. 

But did you know that there’s a neuroscientific basis to that positive feeling of being seen, listened to and really heard?

Did you know that conversations trigger a neurochemical cascade that will either shut you down, open you up or blow the roof off your potential?

The brain speaks neuroscience

The late Judith E. Glaser, the world’s leading authority on Conversational Intelligence, said, “The key to better health is to better understand our brain. By understanding how the brain functions, communicates, and responds to our environment, we can reach our full potentials. The brain does not speak French or English, it speaks neuroscience.”

But according to research done by Stanford University, 9 out of 10 conversations miss the mark.

That means that 90 per cent of the time, we’re not getting our message across.

That’s a worrying statistic when think about how critical it is within a business context to communicate effectively.

It’s all about trust

Every interaction we have contains signals that create – or break – trust and connection.

Furthermore, humans in physical proximity have the power to influence each other’s nervous systems.

What this means is that it’s possible to create emotional contagion of positive or destructive feelings, that can quickly move from one person to another. 

Imagine the implications of this in a business. 

When we are having great conversations, we are experiencing positive chemical changes in our brains that open us up and put us in a sharing state. Our brain releases oxytocin, the hormone behind human connection. Trust is essential for meaningful conversations, and your emotional state is the foundation for successfully co-creating, collaborating, empathising and connecting.   

According to Conversational Intelligence theory, there are three levels of conversations. They are:

Level I: Transactional Conversations

Transactional conversations include interaction dynamics such as asking and telling. These types of conversations confirm what we know and give people a platform for giving and receiving information.

Level II: Positional Conversations

Positional conversations include interaction dynamics such as advocating and inquiring. These conversations allow us to defend what we know; they give people a platform for having and expressing a strong opinion about something. In these conversations, we are less open to influence and more interested in selling our ideas.

Level III: Transformational Conversations

Transformational conversations, also called co-creating conversations, include interaction dynamics such as sharing and discovering. This means asking questions for which you have no answers, listening to the collective, discovering, and sharing insights and wisdom. This generative way of communication leads to more innovative insights and deeper listening to connect to others’ perspectives.

Being able to see the world from others’ perspectives is the benchmark of Conversational Intelligence and Level III conversations.  

Glaser said, “When we connect at a deeper level with others, our brain patterns mimic each other’s—we actually start to see the world through their eyes.”

So how do you know what kind of conversation you are having? And how can you take your conversation to the next level?  If are fostering an environment of innovation and transformation than the C-IQ is a perfect framework to build trust, improve relationships and inspire action. 

If you want to learn more about Conversational Intelligence? Get in touch! 

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